For many organisations today, culture has become a liability. Although culture is essential for organisational performance and health, a pervasive inability to understand and manage culture in support of business performance has become a significant strategic risk.
The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry is complete. Across 76 recommendations, the verdict is in: a profit over people approach had established deep roots in the culture of many organisations. With APRA and the broader community seeking effective reform, a question has emerged related to culture: can it be regulated?
Apart from technology, the rise of customer
experience (CX) is the dominant business theme of the past 10 years. Right now,
and for the foreseeable future, CX is king. Ironically, customer expectations
have never been higher yet at the same time, will never be as low as they are
today. As markets converge and as quality, price and service are evaluated
regularly by consumers, what is an excellent experience today will be
acceptable tomorrow and under-par the day after. In short, CX is a journey, not
a destination and a key ingredient for organisations who can go the distance is
organisational culture. In particular, the ability to continually adapt and
evolve as the customer landscape changes is becoming a requisite CX capability.
are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied even when they report being
happy and business is great.” Geoff Bezos, CEO
Over the past 12 months we have been
working with three iconic Australian organisations in three different market
sectors (retail, education and property management) to enable their CX journey
through organisational culture. Whilst fundamentally different organisations,
their challenges are strikingly similar and offer insight to those seeking to build
organisations that can deliver consistently great CX.
The context for these three organisations
had similarities; historically successful and experiencing market
disruption in the form of new competitors and changing customer
expectations. For all of them, the criticality of CX at a Board and
Executive level has been established. A core part of our work with these
organisations included performance culture diagnostics where three
similar cultural patterns relating to CX emerged.
Low confidence and capability to execute cross functional programs of work, or more practically – silos exist that prevent ‘joined up’ customer experiences
Employees who don’t feel empowered to act in the best interests of the customer
An awareness of customer needs/problems, but difficulty responding to these at the necessary pace
So for each of these organisations, whilst they had invested in their CX journey by addressing more tangible aspects of CX (e.g. customer strategy articulation, product development and technology transformation), those ‘counter-customer’ cultural attributes described above had gotten in the way of realising the benefits. This pattern emerges as a ‘competing tension’; being that CX requires a dual focus and investment on both the tangible aspects of CX as well as the development of critical cultural attributes that enable agility and integration. Both are necessary but a tendency to address one without the other is common.
Our evidence base and experience suggest
some key steps organisations must consider to develop a culture that supports
Quality diagnostic: Understand your organisational culture using a quality, systemic performance culture diagnostic. Engagement is not the same. Performance culture lifts the tone of the conversation to enable strategic change. Deep evidence shows that the cultural attributes described above: Cross functional integration, Empowerment and Customer Responsiveness, are highly correlated with CX performance
Performance linked: Connect your culture to your strategy. If you can’t describe the links, senior stakeholders will see culture work in a non-commercial light and will lose interest
Involvement: Ensure those who deliver customer experience are involved in creating culture change solutions. This is critical to both addressing what really matters and getting uptake from your teams
Customer centricity is here to stay, but what that looks like won’t stand still. Building organisations that are customer centric requires intelligent and deliberate investment in culture, in the same way we currently invest in technology and other tangible CX assets. Those organisations and leaders who recognise this and take a medium to longer term view that balances investment across both domains will be the customer kings of tomorrow
When a new staff member joins the Spring Point Team as a contractor, permamant staff or even as a student on placement; we always ask them a standard set of very important questions. We do this because it's hard starting a new role in a new company and we want to find out a little more about the new person, but it's mainly to break the ice.
We recently had Ben Jepsen start with us. We are excited to host him for his first placement as part of the Masters Psychology (Organisational) from Deakin University. Here's what he had to say in response to our tricky questions...
1. Dog or Cat? Dog person born and raised, but I love cats.
2. Steak or Sushi? Steak.
3. Summer or Autumn? Summer
4. Favourite Footy team: Sydney Swans (or Richmond, still deciding).
By Justine La Roche, Director, Spring Point Reading Time: 4 minutes
An ongoing commitment to exceptional service, increased competition, limited growth due to market pressures, and declines in work accident rates and motor vehicle deaths, all contributed to the CFO of a well known Australian law firm calling out client experience as the firm’s number one strategic priority.
Executing against this priority involved a range of initiatives including simplifying and enhancing the client intake process but most importantly, and where we came in, was the building the capability of lawyers to quickly develop trusting relationships with prospective clients.
After designing and piloting client intake training in-house, Spring Point was engaged to reimagine the approach, to ensure that it was highly engaging and aligned to the diverse learning needs of a national workforce.
Fun and Interactive "Blended Out" Solution
Key to our approach was ‘blending out’ the solution from a once-off training event, to a multi-faceted experience including workshops with video-based learning primers and on-the-job support tools.
The face-to-face training was redesigned to be applicable to all lawyers to support implementation at scale.
Rather than a lecture or presentation format, this redesign was an opportunity to incorporate a greater level of interactivity through small group activities, case studies, scenarios, games and reflective exercises underpinned by clear learning goals. This medley of approaches was used to bring the content to life, namely developing rapport and trust, and meeting client needs throughout the intake process.
To ensure the credibility of the training, we partnered closely with practice leads throughout the redesign and created opportunities for workshops to be facilitated by senior lawyers. This provided a valuable avenue for well-respected lawyers to actively share their knowledge and experience with more junior staff, through storytelling and coaching.
We worked with the client to develop ‘Vox Pop’ style video capturing tips and strategies for developing trust from some of the firm’s most respected lawyers in order to capitalise on and share internal expertise.
Interviews were conducted with subject matter experts and state-based leads to design customised quick reference guides to account for different content in line with local and /or practice-based nuances regarding scheme structure and the provision of advice.
What does the solution actually look like?
Training delivered in all offices, across the country within a short timeframe, co-facilitated by senior lawyers
Detailed facilitator guides and facilitation skill boosters to equip the internal delivery team to successfully implement the solution ongoing
Engaging videos that can be repurposed to support lawyer induction and training refreshers
A streamlined and cohesive approach to client intake, informed by greater understanding of the process similarities and differences for the various states and practice groups
Successful test case to promote the role of leader-led learning in staff development.
More times than not, improving customer
experience requires changing how people think and work. It’s not surprising
then, that addressing organisational
culture is one of the top challenges. At the core of this challenge is how
to create behaviour change at scale, often within short timeframes. From our
experience, a leader-led approach is a strategy worth considering.
For example, we
partnered with an iconic Australian organisation providing postal,
retail, financial and travel services to deploy a leader led CX capability development
approach to more than 8,000 employees within a four-week period. Due to an impending product change impacting customers and
merchants, this solution needed to be implemented as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible, without significant
central coordination from a capacity-constrained Learning & Development
The need for a greater customer experience
focus was in response to significant digital disruption impacting the
organisation’s industry, prompting it step up its commitment to putting the
customer at the centre of everything they do. As a result of industry changes,
a role that previously had minimal impact on the customer now has increasing influence
on their overall experience of the brand. Specifically, this experience depends
on incumbents’ compliance with a range of new systems and processes designed to
improve customers’ level of convenience, choice and control. Customer
experience is also greatly influenced by incumbents’ knowledge of different
products and services, and whether they have a mindset of ‘going the extra
awareness and capability relevant to a superior customer experience, three one-hour
conversation-based modules delivered by leaders four to six weeks apart were
developed, each anchored to different ways incumbents could take action within
their roles to have a positive impact on customers. A leader led approach was
used to emphasise the strategic importance of delighting the customer, and to
fit the learning in and around work, given the operational target audience
could not be taken ‘off the floor’ for significant periods.
six months later, and the approach was deemed highly impactful in engaging
thousands of employees across a national network within a relatively short
timeframe in why delighting the customer matters, sparking significant action
planning at a local level to build and sustain momentum. Reflecting on the
experience, several design features contributed to the success of this leader
led approach, some of which were intentional and others that were realised
through trial and error. These include:
to what leaders already know. The three customer-focused modules were deliberately
designed to look and feel like ‘Safety Time’ sessions Facility-level managers
were already familiar with and had developed comfort and confidence delivering
is key. Each module followed the same format so that session structure was one
less thing that leaders had to think about. In addition, each session
incorporated short animated videos to present key information. This helped to
ensure consistent delivery of key messages and reduced pressure on leaders to
know certain details inside out or to memorise content.
what good looks like. The 200 leaders or so involved in delivering this
learning all took part in ‘previews’ of each module. By putting on their
participant ‘hat’ first, leaders could get a feel for the experience as a
learner without being distracted by how to deliver the session. Leaders were
also able to observe a skilled and experienced facilitator in action for each
preview, in order to learn from the role-modelling provided.
plenty of opportunity to practice. It’s inevitable
that leaders will have different comfort and skill levels in facilitating the
learning of others. To address this, each module preview was followed by a
targeted group coaching session where leaders had the opportunity to work
through any questions or concerns, as well as practice delivering different
components and responding to more challenging anticipated questions.
planning and preparation. To support leaders in individually planning and
preparing to deliver their sessions, A3 sized ‘planners’ were created to
summarise each session and learning objectives at a high level. This practical
tool complemented detailed session plans and facilitator guides and were
completed during the group coaching sessions. The A3 planners contained plenty
of space for leaders to capture their own notes, examples, stories and
important points to remember for each activity to make these as relevant as
possible for their teams.
on how to continue the conversation. Leaders were supported
to continue customer-focused conversations with their teams through a variety
of embedding tools. These included Yammer for sharing tips for improving the customer
experience and socialising Facility-level results, visual boards, Customer
Huddles, 1:1 feedback conversations and monthly awards for customer service.
‘Learning loops’ were also designed, with Facility Managers required to feed
forward the best ideas for delighting customers arising from their sessions to
their network senior leadership team, who in turn were asked to present the
best of these ideas to state senior leadership teams.
Since this initiative has been deployed, our client
has experienced a 2% Net Promoter Score (NPS)
increase month-on-month compared to last year, combined with greater energy and
focus on the customer across its network. Buoyed by a successful proof of
concept for leader led learning, the organisation plans to continue and expand
the approach in the future, to promote both the ‘stickiness’ of learning and
the engagement of a significant part of its operational workforce in
strategically important issues.
Our close relationship with Deakin University and the alignment between the University’s Master of Psychology (Organisational) and our work provides the perfect space for on-the-job training and experience. As a result we regularly invite students to work with us as part of their required placement experience.
We love having placement students spend time with us. We love the buzz brought by new faces in the office. We also love that we can give back to the profession by passing on learning we’ve acquired since completing our own studies.
Placement students also provide valuable contributions to our business, they are great at highlighting new research and current and upcoming trends in the thought leadership space. Finally, placement candidates are a good place to look for talent when expanding our team.
At the moment we have Jenny Winspear on placement with us from the Master of Psychology (Organisational), Deakin University.
We recently sat down with her to find out more about her and what she wants to get out of her placement with Spring Point.
What you’ve been up to recently, before starting placement with us?
I have been working as a provisional psychologist at both Deloitte and GHD. At Deloitte, I worked as a consultant to deliver projects in the learning and capability space with a focus on the future of work. This sparked my interest into how the world of work is changing.
Where are you from and how long have you been in Melbourne?
I am originally from the UK and I grew up on a small island on the coast of France called Jersey (where Jersey cows come from). I moved to Melbourne on my own when I was 18 years old, as there are no universities in Jersey and I liked the idea of doing something different and travelling afar.
I have now lived in Melbourne for nearly 10 years and love that the city has endless offerings of great food, coffee, live music, live sport, interesting pop up activities, and always new things to try out.
Tell us about the journey to become a psychologist, and why you chose organisational psychology?
The journey to becoming a psychologist is no small feat. I completed my
first 4 years in Australia and then my money ran out. I moved back home to
Jersey to save money again before I could apply for my masters.
I worked in HR for a law firm for 3 years which reinforced that I was on
the right path and that I still wanted to pursue my professional
qualifications, enrich my learning, and develop my ability to take an
evidence-based approach to dealing with complex organisational issues.
Now that I am nearly finished my Masters of Org Psych, it feels like all the hard work has paid off. I am in a profession where I enjoy going to work every day and am passionate about what I am doing.
There are many places you can approach for placement. What led you to choosing Spring Point?
I have not met an organisational psychologist yet who does not enjoy what they are doing, and Dylan Flavell, the Managing Director at Spring Point was no different when he came into University as a guest lecturer. I was looking for experience in a small consultancy where I would feel valued as part of a team. I had only heard good things about the culture at Spring Point, so I’m looking forward to being part of that. I also wanted some exposure to culture diagnostics, and Spring Point’s use of the Denison model was something I hope to learn more about during my time here.
What have you learnt from your placements so far?
Each placement has taught me a bit more about myself. Self-awareness and self-reflection are the two things that have stood out in both of my placements and my university education. Some of the values that are important to me are diversity, producing high-quality work, learning, recognising the achievements of others, collaborating, and having fun whilst getting work done. So, when I am looking for a job at the end of this year, I will be looking for something that is aligned with as many of those things as possible!
Tell us a quote that resonates with you.
“Always find a reason to
laugh. It may not add years to your life but will surely add life to your
years” – Snoopy.
What a great quote! Thanks Jenny! We look forward to working with you over the next three months.
Are you a student who would like to do a placement with us? Get in touch! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call to have a chat 03 9699 6269.
By Justine La Roche, Director, Spring Point Reading Time: 4 minutes
Customer experience (CX) is a buzzword with bite. Studies show that 8 in 10 customers will pay more for a better experience, a price premium of up to 16% for comparable products and services. Loyalty and advocacy also benefit, with a positive customer experience making a person five times more likely to recommend a company. What’s more, acquiring a new customer is anywhere between five and 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one, depending on which study you believe and industry you are in. Numbers like these grab attention and drive investment decisions. One key area of investment is the capability of employees to positively influence customer touchpoints.
For example, we collaborated with Bakers Delight to create and evaluate a strategic capability program to foster the mindset and behaviours needed to shape customer experiences that truly delight. With increasing competitive pressure from supermarkets and artisan bakeries, Bakers Delight seized the opportunity to set new customer experience standards in line its brand promise: every baker should be delighted by the bread that they make, and every customer should be delighted by the service they receive.
Inspired by this promise, we worked with Bakers Delight to identify six ‘ingredients’ that bring the concept of delight to life in practical ways for participants. These included 1) Acknowledgement & Greeting, 2) Personalising Service, 3) Tastings & Product Knowledge, 4) Ad Ons, Up Selling & Substitute Selling, 5) Random Delight & Instore Theatre and 6) Handling Complaints. In order to increase revenue, repeat customers and brand advocacy it was hypothesised that all six elements must be combined and consistently applied. Importantly, Bakers Delight needed these factors to come together in time to impact the six-week Easter Period, their most critical revenue window for the year.
The Delight Factor capability program incorporated: 1) An engaging, high energy face-to-face workshop. This provided the emotive ‘hook’ for why delighting customers matters. It included motion graphics highlighting business drivers and market conditions, storytelling to promote an empathetic connection with customers, product knowledge quiz ‘playoffs’ and scenario-based skits to emphasise each ingredient of delight. Passion, energy and momentum were further fostered through colourful collateral and workshop materials, fun props, costumes, and upbeat music.
2) Seven eLearning modules focused on different ‘ingredients’ of delight Existing sales and service content was updated and chunked down into manageable course lengths (e.g. 7-10 minutes each) and optimised for mobile devices, so that they were easier for learners to complete in bakery before or after a shift. To minimise learner overload, the seven modules were aligned to the most relevant upcoming marketing campaigns in order to launch them in spaced batches. To promote learner engagement, fresh visuals and colour, puns and appropriate humour were used throughout, given that these are a big part of Bakers Delight’s culture.
3) In Bakery Kit This contained tools and resources to embed The Delight Factor back on the job. Examples include a “Delight-o-meter” self-assessment for bakeries to gauge how they are tracking, a post implementation plan to foster staff ownership of positive changes, a Product Knowledge Playbook and a “Deck of Delight”. The latter was a low-tech, ‘gamified’ tool, similar to a deck of playing cards, with each card containing a product knowledge quiz question or customer service challenge for staff to randomly select at the start of each shift, during quiet periods or by a travelling Area Manager, to enable them to coach staff during their visit. Extremely popular, this deck was refreshed in line with each marketing campaign, through additional cards targeting key promotions (e.g. Back-to School, Pink Buns for Breast Cancer, Healthy Breads).
In total, 90 face-to-face workshops were conducted, with close to 2,000 participants taking part, and more than 5,000 participants completing all seven eLearning courses.
Business Impact of Investing in CX Capability In terms of impact, the business metric that Bakers Delight was most interested in was revenue, and what it did during the six-week period leading up to Easter. The result was impressive. In this time, 1,243,480 more Hot Cross Buns were sold than the same period the previous year. This equated to an 11.7% sales increase, driven by a 12 cents increase in average spend per customer (SPC). This result helped counter claims that the sales increase was potentially driven by other factors, such as increased foot traffic, say for example, off the back of a strong Easter marketing campaign. The SPC figures suggest the revenue boost didn’t occur because suddenly more customers were visiting bakeries, but that when they did, something was happening within the customer experience itself to influence them to spend more. Numerous franchisees attributed the sales increase to a greater focus on customer service, upselling and active tastings as promoted by The Delight Factor. Area Managers also reported an increase in front-of-house staff providing random delight through offering complimentary product, value-adding through educating customers about products in line with their needs, going the extra mile (by helping customers carry their groceries to their car for example) and simply having more fun in the bakery. The cultural cut through of the program was further evident through customer feedback, such as this example of a staff member providing random delight to someone who needed it more than most:
“Today as I walked through Centro Albury, I was approached by a lovely Bakers Delight staff member, Nicola. She offered me a bag with bread and hot cross buns. I was blown away. I asked her what for and she politely told me because they wanted to do something for people in the community. This is the nicest thing I have had happen to me in a very long time and I am so very grateful. My family has been having a rough time lately and this has given me such a boost. This act of kindness has exceeded anything I have experienced in retail.”
Collective results like these helped to green light further investments, including establishing Hero of Delight Awards, linking learning assets like the “Deck-of-Delight” to ongoing marketing campaigns, including The Delight Factor skill building as part of onboarding and providing refresher training. These additional investments have in turn provided greater momentum to propel Bakers Delight along its CX journey.